By on May 18, 2018

dodge caliberGeovanni writes,

Hi, I have a 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT-4 and for a while I’ve been looking for someone that might be able to help me convert it from FWD to AWD. I was wondering if you think there’s a way of making an AWD Caliber SRT-4 without dumping more money into it than its worth? I think a guy in Russia did it but haven’t found anyone in the states willing to help me out. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Sajeev answers:

I’ve avoided conventional wisdom by adding Fox-body Mustang aftermarket bits to a Foxy Mercury Cougar since the late ’90s, ignoring well intentioned “just get a Mustang” comments along the way. Just like me, you cannot do this without going upside down for two reasons:

  1. After the AWD conversion, would it sell on the open market for any more than the $11,000 full dealer retail on a perfect, low(ish) mile example? Perhaps a well-heeled forum junky will pay the premium. Going to Carmax for an appraisal would be heartbreaking!
  2. When I hear “someone that might be able to help me,” my cold, bitter soul says, “ain’t nobody gonna help you out of the kindness of their heart.” They’ll help you at anywhere from $50-$100 an hour, however.

Kinda like a dowry in an arranged marriage of two families (cough, not speaking from experience), installing Mitsubishi Evo parts into a distant relative of the GS Platform requires a large amount of cash, careful consideration fabrication and cultural electronic re-calibration.

We haven’t covered the purchase/storage/labor cost of those Evo parts, preferably the whole vehicle, wrecked from an insurance auction. But what exactly is involved here?

In a shocking twist of Internet fate, I found the best information in a YouTube comment.

Amazing SRT-4 YouTube comment, Image: YouTubeEven with free/paid help, you’ll spend at least triple the value of your Caliber SRT-4 to go AWD. And it will absorb countless lunches, evenings and weekends to procure, modify, recondition, reprogram and install these bits. Only to have a car most people would rather spit on than sit in. Speaking from experience, mind you.

But hey, if my Fox-body Cougar is a bit of a head turner in the year 2018, why not invest in a future you are only gonna love? I encourage your financial stupidity for future dividends in automotive lunacy!

DO. IT. NOW.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles/Dodge, YouTube]

Send your queries to [email protected]m. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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20 Comments on “Piston Slap: Calibrate AWD for an SRT-4?...”


  • avatar

    Well they made AWD chassis Caliber and you could get a manual tranny Compass with AWD. SO I assume you could make all those parts fit as well but I’m guessing they would self destruct under the load.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      This would be my approach as well. You might be able to beef some of those parts up if they are shared between other larger members of that chassis family. It will take a whole bunch of effort and research to get it figured out. Some AWD vehicles also have different floor pans then the FWD equivalent. It might be easier to start with an AWD version, and transfer the SRT bits to it.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Dodge did make an AWD model. Cars.com shows 36 of them for sale across the country. If you really want an AWD Caliber, the most sensible course would be to buy the best one of them. Note that Edmunds published a road test in which they were very critical of its poor performance which they blamed on the mandatory CVT transmission.

    It might be possible to transplant AWD parts into your SRT-4 or to stuff the (presumably better) transmission from your SRT-4 into an AWD car. How difficult that would be is another question. The result would be worth little to anyone but another Caliber fan.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The big question here is whether or not the FWD floorpan can accomodate the AWD gear. If not, then you’d have to find an AWD Caliber and swap over as much SRT4 and/or Evo gear as needed.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      If they never made a AWD SRT, then the parts for the AWD Model probably aren’t ready to take on twice the torque, etc than they were designed for. A lot of wasted time and money if just ends up breaking. Plus, didn’t the SRT Caliber have some sort of weird braking computer program used to control Torque steer/wheel spin rather than a more expensive hardware solution. Might run into some unfixable problems from a software perspective as well.

      This guy might really love his SRT Caliber, but that is a project of love where cost is not really a consideration. I don’t think there is any way to do this where it wouldn’t end up being cost prohibitive if being practical is a true consideration.

      • 0 avatar
        notapreppie

        Seems like a prime candidate for upgrading to aftermarket parts when the OEM part fails.

        Nothing points out the weakest link like doubling power.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “you think there’s a way of making an AWD Caliber SRT-4 without dumping more money into it than its worth”

    No. There is no possible way of doing that, unless “[what] it’s worth” is *to you*, and you value that end result more than I can imagine any human being on earth actually valuing any Caliber that could ever exist.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    Twin engine conversion would be easier….

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    Twin engine conversion would be easier….

  • avatar
    John R

    just…buy a WRX

  • avatar
    brawnychicken333

    To be fair-filling the gas tank in a Caliber is already dumping in more money than it’s worth.

    As my dear old grandpa used to say during the war, if you’re going to put gas in it, may as well swap out the drivetrain while you’re at it.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Buy a Forester XT, modify the suspension and buy some aero bits. Then put whatever badges, stickers and stripes on it make you happy.

    • 0 avatar
      9Exponent

      A friend of mine once stuck a Mercedes emblem on his beater Datsun 200sx. He knew he wasn’t fooling anyone, but it gave him no end of amusement.

      At the end of the day, you are ultimately accountable to yourself.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Hopping up an 80s Cougar is not insane, they have a quirky coolness, and better handling and scoot is always fun. But hacking an AWD Caliber….dear god, why? What does it get you? King of the nerd prom?

    • 0 avatar

      If I was at a car show and I saw a AWD caliber SRT4 or a LS swapped Aztek I would find that way more interesting then almost any muscle car. I think obscure slightly crappy cars are the most interesting. Now I suddenly want to see a dodge colt with a lancer drivetrain.

      Edit just searched for the aztek and colt turns out it has both already been done.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        I have a healthy appreciation for obscure crappy cars. I just don’t think adding AWD does anything to move the interesting meter. I mean if this were 1987 and there were only a handful of AWD vehicles on the market, sure. But if it floats your boat, OK. I’m impressed by the guy who fab’d a four-door Citation X-11, so it’s not like a have a lot of room to talk.

        Also, an LS-swapped Aztek would be badass.

    • 0 avatar

      “they have a quirky coolness, and better handling and scoot is always fun.”

      Well they are quirky cool now…but it wasn’t that far away from a FWD Turbo Mopar back when I was working on it. Time will be kind to any SRT product…maybe even kinder to Fox Cougars.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Some crazy genius put a radial airplane engine in a LeMons car. Anything is possible.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Caliber? Definitely a car I’d never drive. What the hell is a Caliber, anyway? It’s ugly, and I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to be a car or a crossover.


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